3 ASX stocks smashing the market

What’s happened: The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) did an about face on Tuesday, rallying 1% higher but failing to make up all of the losses suffered on Monday.

A number of index constituents contributed to the gains including a 12.1% jump in the share price of agricultural input supplier Nufarm Limited (ASX: NUF), a 5.3% rally in Horizon Oil Ltd (ASX: HZN) and a 4.5% gain for insurance broker Steadfast Group Ltd (ASX: SDF).

Why: In the case of Nufarm, the embattled company released its full year results on Tuesday which investors obviously reacted positively to. Revenue expanded 15% to $2.6 billion and underlying profit increased 4% to $86 million. Perhaps most pleasingly, net debt fell 19% to $513 million and a number of other metrics moved in the right direction too.

It appears a rise in the oil price was all it took to send Horizon’s share price higher. Having reported a strong set of results at the end of August the share price had tracked the oil price lower over September. With production from its Beibu Gulf fields expected to remain strong in FY 2015 and with the balance sheet in a strong position post-PNG asset sales the company appears well placed.

Meanwhile, Steadfast’s share price has now gained 15% in the last month – largely, it would appear thanks to the announcement of the acquisition of fellow listed insurance stock Calliden Group Ltd. (ASX: CIX).

Now what: Nufarm is very much a turnaround story and although it operates in the inherently difficult agricultural sector, the stock could be worth monitoring for investors with a high risk tolerance. Horizon Oil is heavily exposed to the oil price but could suit investors looking for a higher risk energy play. Finally, Steadfast remains a quality business with prospects for steady growth, however its shares do look pricey, so there may be better value elsewhere.

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur owns shares in Calliden Group Ltd.

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